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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Cablegram from Pershing to Secretary of War Newton Baker acknowledging his appointment to command the AEF, October 8, 1917. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (105.00.00)

Receiving the Rank of Full General

In this October 1917 telegram, General Pershing thanked Newton Baker for his promotion to full general in, as the first contingents of U.S. troops were nearly ready to enter the frontline trenches. Secretary Baker had asked Congress to reestablish the rank of General, which, at that point, was higher than the top rank in the U.S. Army. Baker argued successfully that the scale of responsibility placed on Pershing as the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) deserved the higher rank. Only George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Philip Sheridan previously held ranks higher than Major General in the United States Army.